The 1971 Regulation (Regulations relating to Bouvetøya Nature Reserve) states that the landscape is protected from all forms of physical disturbance such as road building, installation of buildings and constructions of any kind, or other activities that entail disturbance on the terrain or of the natural environment. However, installations required for management activities are allowed. Animal life, including birds’ nests and eggs, is protected throughout the year and it is forbidden to take dogs ashore. The plant life is to be protected from all damaging disturbance with exception of that caused by ordinary traffic. Off-road vehicles and the landing of aircrafts are prohibited without specific permission.
Permission to land or stay on Bouvetøya is basically not required. However, in practice, helicopter is usually required to access Bouvetøya. The steep cliffs make landing by boat very difficult. There are few places where it is possible to go ashore, and the ocean swell will generally make it hazardous to land from a boat. The safest way of landing people and cargo is therefore by helicopter from a vessel. Since landing of helicopters on Bouvetøya is prohibited, a special permit from the Norwegian Polar Institute is required if use of helicopter nevertheless is deemed necessary for activity on the island.
Bouvetøya has an unique and pristine environment. The island is one of few places in the world where no introduced species have been registered. Non-native species are a threat to the island’s existing environmental values. Such species are often hardy and can easily outcompete the naturally established animals and plants. This will lead to loss of biological diversity. Once a non-native species has established, it is often impossible to get rid of.
Species originating from other sub-Antarctic islands or from polar regions are most likely to establish on Bouvetøya, since they are adapted to similar environments. Therefore, the risk of introduction of non-native species is a particularly when bringing along equipment that has been used in such areas. Warming as a result of climate change could, however, lead to viable conditions for additional species, and increase the probability for a successful establishment of an introduced species.
Guidelines to avoid the introduction of non-native species to Bouvetøya
These guidelines are developed by the Norwegian Polar Institute to give advice on how visitors can prevent introducing non-native species to Bovetøya. The guidelines focus on the terrestrial environment, but visitors are also encouraged to take appropriate measures to avoid introducing non-native species to the surrounding marine environment.
- Boats and aircrafts used when landing on the island must be cleaned inside and outside. This applies to, for example:
- Tender boats
- Equipment in tender boats and helicopters (survival suits, oars, anchors etc.)
- All equipment and personal belongings must be cleaned before landing. Clothes and equipment that cannot be cleaned must not be brought ashore. Packing must take place in a clean area. Pack tightly. Pay special attention to seeds or sterile soil that may get stuck to or in, for example:
- Footwear and gaiters
- Velcro and tape etc.
- Trouser cuffs
- Camera bag and stand
- Backpacks, bags etc.
- Tents, pegs and poles
- Scientific equipment (including RPAS/drones)
- Equipment that will be in contact with the ground, such as footwear, tent floors, tent pegs, tent poles and camera stands, must be disinfected before landing.
- Be especially thorough when cleaning and disinfecting equipment that has previously been used on other sub-Antarctic islands or in polar regions.
- Living plants and animals, soil etc. must not be brought ashore. Be aware of rodents etc. and take measures to prevent such animals from getting ashore.
- Fresh animal or plant-based food may contain micro-organisms which may spread. Such microorganisms can also be pathogenic and pose a risk to local wildlife. Furthermore, there is a risk that some food plants themselves may establish. To avoid this, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, chicken and eggs etc. must not be brought ashore.
- Untreated wood can often contain other organisms and should not be taken ashore.
During the stay ashore
- During the stay ashore, waste must be secured against wind so that it does not disperse. All waste must be returned from the island.
- Be careful when handling, storing and removing food and food waste. This must be stored in tight containers to prevent animals and birds from getting access and to prevent food or waste from dispersing.
- Human waste and greywater must be collected in closed containers and returned from the island unless it can be deposited in the sea in such a way that it is not washed ashore or impacts animals or birds. The site’s suitability for such a deposit must be assessed specifically.
After the visit
The Norwegian Polar Institute would like to receive information about any observations of potential non-native species on Bouvetøya.
Special regulations in the Nyrøysa area
Special regulations regarding the conduct of activities have also been introduced in the Nyrøysa area, where the CCAMLR monitoring takes place. Direct human disturbance must be avoided in this area to ensure the best possible monitoring results.
The specific regulations relating to activity in the Nyrøysa area states that from 1 November to 15 March it is only allowed to visit the Nyrøysa area in connection with environmental monitoring approved by the Norwegian Polar Institute. There are also special regulations regarding aircraft from 1 November to 1 May. The Norwegian Polar Institute can grant exemption from the stipulations laid down in the Regulation for research that cannot be performed elsewhere and does not come into conflict with the environmental monitoring. Visits to the Nyrøyse area for other purposes are not permitted in the period covered by the traffic ban.
The Norwegian Polar Institute can provide more details about the regulations and how to apply for exemption from them.
Apart from the field station in the Nyrøysa area, there is no infrastructure on the island, nor is there any local rescue service. All who wish to travel to Bouvetøya must therefore be self-sufficient with logistics and have the necessary state of preparedness to ensure their own safety. Bouvetøya is generally hidden in fog, so one must expect waiting before a helicopter can land there. Few places on the island are suitable for any form of activity and camping, and staying on the island will always be somewhat hazardous. The mountainsides are unstable and there is a considerable risk of landslides. The ice cap, which covers most of the island, has not been surveyed for crevasses.